Photo by Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Informer
Photo by Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Informer

Archbishop Carroll High School in the D.C. has received a $5 million donation to build a broadcast media lab that will be dedicated to the memory of late NBC4 news anchor Jim Vance.

Vance’s family members and broadcasters from NBC4 joined faculty, supporters and students at the northeast Washington school last week to unveil plans for a new media center that will be part of the Jim Vance Media Program to educate the next generation of journalists.

“My hope was to get people started on careers and put a spark in their life,” said Steve Newby, a Bethesda, Maryland, businessman who made the largest single-gift donation in the school’s history. “I had a spark in my life many years ago and it had to do with the stock market. This spark may be journalism.”

While administration and faculty at Archbishop Carroll expressed their appreciation for the gift, the happiest group at Friday’s press conference was a half-dozen students among 20 selected “Vance Scholars” who would get to use the proposed center, which will include broadcast and recording studios, editing booths and suites, and master control rooms.

“My hope is that we have a very productive media program at Archbishop Carroll and we get a lot done,” said Jomo Carrie, a student already in the program.

Photo by Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Informer

Another student, Sophia Webb, a resident of Accokeek, Maryland, said “I am hoping to learn about filmmaking so that I can tell stories about different types of people.”

The students came to the event dressed in their Archbishop Carroll blazers and name tags that read Vance Scholars. One of them, Elaina Wheeler, said being identified is the first step in becoming a journalist “because people need to know your name.”

Vance’s widow Kathy and his daughter Amani, who both spoke at Friday’s event, said they were encouraged by the efforts to burnish Vance’s legacy. The legendary newsman, who was one of the nation’s first major Black news anchors and a D.C. icon, died July 22, 2017, after a bout with cancer.

“What is better to embody all that was Vance than with the [Jim Vance Media Program],” said Kathy Vance.

Amani, a New York filmmaker, said that even though her father is gone, “Dad’s feeling deeply gratified to know that his lifetime dedication to journalism is serving as a positive influence in guiding and inspiring generations of journalists to come.”

In addition to his award-winning career that spanned four decades, Vance, a former schoolteacher, had deep ties to the Archbishop Carroll community, sponsoring a scholarship for a college-bound senior each year.

“The Jim Vance Media Program is a four-year comprehensive program and this is our first cohort of Vance Scholars,” said program director Cherie Ward.

Participating students will learn “the principles, practices and techniques to journalism, broadcasting, social media writing and, most importantly, multi-modality across digital platforms,” Ward said.

The school is now accepting applications from seventh- and eighth-grade students for the program. The deadline is Jan. 7.

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Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

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